Juve sight records as Europa, relegation dominates Serie A
Champions Juventus could break more Serie A records with a win at Roma on Sunday as a six-team battle for Europa League places, and the relegation fight, continues in Italy.
Juventus claimed their third consecutive scudetto without kicking a ball last weekend when closest challengers Roma crashed 4-1 at Catania.
Antonio Conte`s men then celebrated their 30th official title with a 1-0 win at home to Atalanta which handed the Turin giants a record 31st win of the season and broke Inter`s previous record of 30 (2007).
Inter`s 97-point tally for their title-winning season in 2007 is also there for the taking. Juve have amassed 96 and with two games remaining could become the first champions to finish on 100 points or more.
Juventus prevailed 3-0 at home against Roma earlier in the campaign but the Bianconeri have twice suffered defeat on their travels to top four sides, away to Fiorentina (4-2) and then Napoli (2-0), this season.
And after the ignominy of last week`s 4-1 reverse in Sicily, coach Rudi Garcia expects Roma to make amends in what is the Giallorossi`s final home game of the season.
"On Sunday we`ll thank the fans for the support they`ve given us this season," said Garcia.
"The match will also serve as a yardstick for next season, to show that we still give 100% even when there`s nothing to play for.
"Only by playing well can you beat the top teams in the league."
Although Juventus and Roma have qualified for the Champions League group stages, uncertainty reigns at both clubs.
Garcia, barely 10 months after arriving at the Olympic Stadium, is reportedly mulling his future as he awaits confirmation that the club will invest in players for next season.
Conte, whose side crash out of the Champions League at the group stages, is set to hold talks with clubs chiefs in the coming days.
"Next week, after the Roma game, we`ll be sitting down with Conte to talk about his future at the club," said Juventus CEO Beppe Marotta.
Napoli secured third place and a place in the qualifying stages of the Champions League when closest challengers Fiorentina were stunned on Tuesday as visitors Sassuolo claimed a precious 4-3 away win that could help stave off relegation.
However Rafael Benitez`s men, 3-0 winners over Cagliari the same night, are in danger of finishing their season, and beginning next, on a low note.
Napoli`s Cup victory over Fiorentina last Saturday was marred by the shooting of three fans.
Napoli have since been handed a two-game stadium ban which means they will play their final match of the season, at home to Verona, and the first home game of next season, behind closed doors.
Napoli and Fiorentina, the latter fourth and already qualified for the Europa League, will have nothing but pride to play for when they visit Sampdoria and Livorno respectively on Sunday.
But for six teams sitting below them the season is far from over.
Because Napoli and Fiorentina are already qualified for Europe, the Europa League spot usually offered to the Cup winners (Napoli) will go to the team that finishes sixth.
With two games remaining, six teams can still mathematically finish in fifth or sixth with Parma and Milan (54) and Verona and Lazio (53) only three and two points adrift of fifth-placed Inter (57) respectively, with Torino sixth on 55.
Sassuolo`s midweek win pushed them two points clear of the drop zone and a home win against Genoa would prove another huge boost.
But with only six points separating them from basement side Livorno, relegation for the bottom three sides could ultimately be decided on the final day of the season.
Verona v Udinese (1600 GMT), Inter v Lazio (1845)
Atalanta v Milan (1030), Bologna v Catania, Cagliari v Chievo, Livorno v Fiorentina, Sampdoria v Napoli, Sassuolo v Genoa, Torino v Parma (all 1300), Roma v Juventus (1845)